Law Punishing Fake Military Heroes May Go to Supreme Court

DENVER -- The Justice Department is battling to save a federal law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero.

A federal appeals court in California and a federal district court in Denver have both ruled the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional under the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech.

Government lawyers in California have asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling. Prosecutors in Colorado say they also will file an appeal.

The law makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal.

Critics say the law gives the government too much power to determine what kind of speech is legal, and that impostors can be punished under existing fraud laws. Supporters say the law defends the honor of legitimate war heroes.